As I sat and listened to our speakers at the Colorado Baptist Annual Meeting this past week in Grand Junction, one thing kept sailing through my mind: pastors must set the pace and make the case biblically about how to fulfill the Great Commission.
My Discipleship Pastor (Adam) and I discussed quite a bit what we heard at the meetings, much of which was good. Yet, we were reminded that we must be sure the indicatives of what Christ has accomplished and declared via His bodily death and same bodily resurrection fuel the imperatives (commands) in putting what Christ has done into action.
1. Without the indicatives, all that matters is what you do. Granted, believers need to do more. James gives us numerous warnings that ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:14-25). It’s not a faith-plus-works, it’s a faith that works, bearing fruit based upon what Jesus has accomplished. Matt Chandler has reminded us repeatedly that the gospel must never be assumed, but must be explicit.
2. Pastors must set the pace. Is our ministry based on our busyness? Is our ministry based on our titles, activities, meeting attendance, or giftedness in preaching and teaching? We may be setting the pace for our people that it is about the imperatives, for we are taking little personal time in the Word to look at the indicatives and promises God has kept in Christ. Our congregations follow our lead (or lack of leadership) whether we like it or not.
3. Pastors must make the case. Pastors must cast a vision that smells and tastes of God’s revelation (Scripture) both in broad and specific terms. In broad senses, your people should know and be able to state in a sentence or two who you are, what you believe, and where you’re going. The brief, broad understandings then seep into the rest of the specifics. When your people understand the broad, they will use that as a filter and a paradigm for their respective tasks moving forward.
4. Pastors must make the case biblically. Do we believe that the Bible is sufficient and clear in its prescription of what His church should be and do? Many times, we approach meetings assuming that the Bible is in play, but set it aside in the day-to-day meetings. Does the Bible have something to say about the vision of the church as relates to, say, stewardship and finances? Security? Playing the organ? Decorating? Fellowship Teams? Systems analysis? I contend that it does, thus connecting the broad vision and the specifics with the lubricating Word that keeps the train moving in Jesus’ name—literally.
5. Pastors, pray for your people. Influences pervade every facet of our lives—often unawares. Pray that God would help your people recognize those influences for what they are. And as the Scriptures reverberate in the warp and woof of the life of the church and the lives of individual believers, they will be able to see what is in harmony with God’s Word, and what is not. That mature discernment is markedly absent in many believers (Hebrews 5:11-6:3).
Seek His Face. Set the pace. Make the case.